According to the International Energy Agency report “SDG7: Data and Projections” (2022), more than 570 million people in Africa alone do not have access to electricity. As climate change becomes more and more significant, sustainable and decarbonised sources of energy are more than ever needed to enable access to energy for all while cutting the continent’s dependency on fossil fuels and unsustainable biomass consumption.  

In both Africa and Europe, a growing priority is given to developing non-fossil sources of energy. The European Union (EU)’s Green Deal supports a growth strategy reinforcing Europe’s commitment to developing and improving renewable energies. Meanwhile, the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063 strategy highlights renewable energy as a critical area for ensuring the continent’s sustainable development.  

However, the deployment of renewable energy in Africa is hampered by several challenges, including gaps in technical and institutional capacity, and the absence of supportive regulation and policies.   

The stakes are high. A significant portion of used energy is generated from “traditional”, unsustainable, biomass in most AU countries though Africa has abundant renewable energy resources. However, energy access remains the main issue, with an average electrification rate below 35% in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 according to the “SDG7: Data and Projections” report (2022)– thus also resulting in a huge market potential. 

                     Credits image: LEAP-RE Portfolio

To overcome these challenges, the European Union and the African Union have joined forces to create the LEAP-RE Programme “Long-Term Joint EU-AU Partnership on Renewable Energy”, co-coordinated by the French purpose-driven company LGI with the South African Department of Science and Innovation.

A diverse portfolio of projects to support the development of renewable energy sources and access to energy

By promoting research and innovation in renewable energy, LEAP-RE contributes to the creation of technological solutions adapted to various African contexts. A total of 31 projects are now part of the LEAP-RE Portfolio, working on topics as varied as solar mini-grids, small-scale energy storage solutions, energy system modelling, geothermal systems, and renewable energy applications in agriculture, solar cooking, and more. Several new projects have successively joined LEAP-RE after being selected via open ‘Calls for AU-EU Collaborative Research and Innovation projects on Renewable Energy’ in January 2022 and more recently in March 2023.

These projects are co-funded by national and regional funding organisations in Africa and Europe, along with the European Commission. LGI is proud to endorse the role of a funding agency towards four beneficiary organisations in Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda – countries for which no national funding agency is involved. This will support work on biogas production for off-grid sustainable clean cooking, pumped thermal energy storage for sustainable agricultural needs of African communities, and the development of an integrated and mobile solution for low-cost cooking and power generation.

Building a long-lasting partnership

Beyond projects, LEAP-RE acts as a catalyst for change. By working together, researchers, engineers, innovators and policy-makers from Europe and Africa combine their expertise, resources and influence to achieve significant results in renewable energy.

From establishing public-private partnerships for the financing of innovative renewable energy projects, building institutional and technical capacity, to promoting favourable regulation and policies, LEAP-RE helps create an enabling environment for the development of sustainable energy in Africa. Cooperation between the EU and AU is essential to mobilise the necessary financial resources for the deployment of novel renewable energy and help rally the resources needed to both achieve the UN’s SDG7 and meet the green energy markets needs in Africa.

As general coordinator of this programme, LGI works closely with the partners and stakeholders involved to ensure its successful delivery, notably by organising training sessions on administrative and financial management of EU-funded projects dealing with climate change and sustainable energy in Africa.  The organisation of international events, the promotion and dissemination of LEAP-RE projects and scientific activities, the development of the LEAP-RE community and the design of an Innovation Accelerator Programme are also key areas of work for LGI.

How can you get involved?

There are several opportunities to engage with the LEAP-RE programme. The LEAP-RE Online Community is one of them. This is a space for sustainable energy research and innovation stakeholders from both Africa and Europe to exchange, share knowledge, and collaborate on common opportunities. Create and detail your profile to start exchanging with other community members.

There is also the opportunity to join the next LEAP-RE Stakeholder Forum which will take place in Kigali, Rwanda, from 10-13 October 2023. The Stakeholder Forum is an event organised every year to meet with the LEAP-RE Community. It aims to create and expand an international multi-stakeholder community dealing with renewable energy, science-based policymaking, funding and research, innovation, monitoring, evaluation and learning, in Africa and Europe.

You can also follow the progress of LEAP-RE by following the programme on Twitter and LinkedIn or by subscribing to the LEAP-RE newsletter.

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